‘Cats Race Past Huskies


Courtesy of courant.com

‘Cats Race Past Huskies

Greg Welsh

Despite a lackluster opening half, the Villanova Wildcats flipped the script in the second period of play, defeating the UConn Huskies, 81-58, on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. 

Playing the second leg of a three-year series against their former Big East rival, the Wildcats were led by senior Eric Paschall, who scored 21 points on the day, 16 of which came after the intermission. Paschall’s elevated play in the second half was reflective of the team’s efforts as a whole. In the opening 20 minutes, the ‘Cats turned the ball over 12 times, and, with 2:29 left in the half, trailed the Huskies, 30-25. ‘Nova was able to close the half on a 5-0 run to head to the locker room knotted at 30. 

The second half started much like the first, with Villanova turning the ball over on their first two possessions. At this point, a fiery Jay Wright earned a technical foul for voicing his displeasures to the referee. While the technical resulted in two free-throws for the Huskies’ Jalen Adams, and allowed UConn to take a 36-35 lead, it provided a spark for the Wildcats. After the technical, ‘Nova proceeded to go on a 19-0 run to take a commanding, 54-36 advantage. Following this dominant spurt, the game’s result was never in question. Because of the large lead, Tim Delaney and Peyton Heck checked in to the game during the final minutes, a rare sight during a season which has been characterized by closely contested games. 

 A big story from the game was the play of Villanova freshman, Jahvon Quinerly. With starting point guard Collin Gillespie missing the game with a head injury, Wright was forced to allow Quinerly, who had been out of the rotation for the team’s past few games, 25 minutes of playing time. Although he shot just 2-8 from the field, Quinerly turned over the ball just once, and showed visible improvement on the defensive end, causing numerous UConn giveaways. Quinerly finished the game with 10 points and four assists, both career highs for the McDonald’s All-American. 

With the victory, Villanova closed the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 9-4 record. The ‘Cats will open Big East play on Jan. 2 when they host DePaul at the Finneran Pavilion at 8:30 p.m.